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How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

With a climate, energy and cost of living crisis worrying households across the UK, you might be thinking about investing in an electric car? But how much does it cost to charge an electric car at home and out and about? We've asked Danny Morgan, editor and marketing manager at national home charge point installers Smart Home Charge, to give us his expert advice.

6 minute read

How much does it cost to charge an electric car

The lower running costs of an electric car is one of the biggest attractions of buying one in the first place – aside from a great driving experience of course!

But the actual cost of charging an electric vehicle can vary. While factors such as efficiency of the vehicle and how efficient you are as the driver affect the cost of running an electric car, ultimately it is the cost of the electricity that is the biggest factor. This is priced in kilowatt hours (kWh). And pence per kilowatt hour (p/kWh) is the electric car’s equivalent of pence per litre for petrol or diesel.

But the price per kWh of electricity varies a lot more than the price of petrol or diesel, and the main determining factor of that is where it is charged. The key locations where an EV can be charged are:

  1. At home (if you have space and a home EV charge point)
  2. On the road – this is where you’ll likely use the “rapid” and “ultra-rapid” public chargers for a quick top-up on a longer trip
  3. Destinations –public chargers are typically found at supermarkets, hotels and gyms etc 

You can work out the cost of charging an electric car anywhere at anytime by multiplying the size of the car’s battery by the electricity rate. For example: size of battery (e.g. 50kWh) x electricity rate (e.g. 30p/kWh) = cost for a full charge (e.g. £15).

But let’s look at the different charging scenarios in a little more detail.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car at home?

Despite the rise in energy costs, charging an electric car at home is still far cheaper than refuelling a petrol or diesel car. It is also much cheaper than using a public charger.

The cost for a charge depends on how much your home electricity supplier charges you for electricity, but this is where you can be pretty savvy with your choice of tariff.

While costs vary, you can shop around for the best tariff. Go for one that exists specifically for electric car owners, which offer a cheaper off-peak electricity rate at certain times of the day, typically for a few hours overnight. This off-peak rate can be dramatically cheaper than the peak rate. For example, the Octopus Go tariff from Octopus Energy has a peak rate of around 35p/kWh during the day whereas for four hours between 12.30am and 4.30am this drops to just 7.5p/kWh.

To put that into perspective, a single charge for a Tesla Model 3, which offers up to 250 miles of range, on the peak rate will cost around £17.50 compared to just £3.75 on the off-peak rate. 

You can also compare the best EV energy tariffs and find the ideal tariff for charging your EV using our home EV energy tariff comparison tool.

The added benefit for homeowners of course is this off-peak price is not just restricted to car charging. If you can schedule other energy intensive appliances to operate during the off-peak times, such as your washing machine or dishwasher, you can also lower the cost of other household activities. 

How much does it cost to install an electric car charger?

You can make the most of this off-peak rate for EV charging by installing a dedicated home electric car charge point. Not only are home EV chargers faster than a conventional socket and three-pin plug, but the added speed means you can “squeeze” in more charging in the off-peak window helping to further reduce car charging costs.

As a ballpark figure, it’s best to budget around £800 upwards for a smart home charge point installation. This cost can be spread out though with monthly payments, which may be an attractive option to those who don’t want to pay a big sum upfront.

You can get a better idea of the cost to install a home charge point over on the Smart Home Charge website.

While the Government charge point grant for homeowners has ended, there are still some incentives available for landlords, renters and those wanting to charge at work, which offer up to £350 off the cost of installation. Learn more about EV grants and incentives.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car at a rapid public charger?

Public chargers largely fall into two categories – on the road and destination.

On the road chargers are the big “rapid” chargers you’ll see at motorway service stations and other major roadways, of which there are over 6,000 across 3,582 locations (as of June 2022).

Examples of rapid charger network brands include InstaVolt, Osprey, Gridserve and Pod Point. 

These “rapid” chargers tend to be the most expensive way of charging an EV – you’re essentially paying a premium for the superfast charging speeds.

Rapid charger costs do vary a lot, but you can typically expect to pay around 45p/kWh. Although it’s incredibly rare you would need to charge from empty to full on a rapid charger, instead topping up enough to get you to your destination, a full charge for a Tesla Model 3 (with 250 miles of range) on the Osprey Charging network will cost around £25. 

So, you can see why you’ll want to keep usage of rapid charging networks as low as you can, only using them if you absolutely have to. Keep in mind too that some networks are significantly more expensive, such as Ionity which charges 69p/kWh.

You can check and compare the cost of charging your EV using different rapid charger networks with the Smart Home Charge rapid charger cost comparison tool.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car at a supermarket?

Rapid chargers aren’t the only form of public charge point. In fact, many charge points are found in public car parks, leisure centres, hotels, retail parks, supermarkets and more.

These are commonly categorised as “destination” chargers because they tend to be located in places where your primary reason for being there is not charging – instead, you’re there to shop, work out and so on, but you can top up your EV while you’re there.

For example, you may have seen the large white Pod Point charge points found in Tesco car parks. BP Pulse, Ubitricity, Chargy and Connected Kerb are other examples of networks that operate destination public chargers. 

The costs for destination public chargers range from free (yes, free!) to around 35p/kWh, while some can even be as expensive as their rapid charger counterparts, but this is rare.

To charge the same Tesla Model 3 as in our earlier examples, costs for a full charge will range from free (some Pod Points at Tesco car parks) to around £15-20 on average. 

You can check and compare the costs of different destination public chargers in the handy Smart Home Charge destination charger comparison tool.

You can also sign up to an EV charge card. A bit like a fuel card, EV charge cards let you access numerous charge point networks with a single card but also offer subscriptions and other benefits that can help reduce the cost of using public charge points.

Check out our guides and reviews to find out which is the best EV charge card for you.

Electric car charging cost calculator

You can easily work out the cost of charging any EV. All you need is the size of the EV battery (for example, 80kWh) and the price of the electricity in pence per kilowatt hour (p/kWh). Then multiply the two, like so:

size of battery x electricity rate = cost for a full charge
e.g. 80kWh x 7.5p/kWh = cost for a full charge
e.g. 80 x 0.075 = £6.00

To make things easy, though, we’ve done the sums for you with our handy electric car charging cost calculator. 

Simply visit smarthomecharge.co.uk and choose home, on the road, or destination charging to compare costs. Then choose your electric car and your weekly or annual mileage and presto, you can easily compare the cost of a single charge, the pence per mile, and the annual cost of charging your EV on different charging types and providers.

 

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